Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Planet Fitness Has Yet to Stretch Its Reach Into Nashua

“Wanted: Someone with 15,000-20,000 square feet for rent to a New Hampshire-based company that Inc. Magazine just called the fastest growing health club firm in the nation. In this economy, people should be beating down the doors to Planet Fitness headquarters, but that doesn't appear to be the case, at least not when it comes to Nashua. For several years, the firm – founded in 1992 in Dover – has been trying to crack the Nashua market and, so far, has been stymied. ‘We did have a deal several years ago, but it fell through at the last minute,’ said Mark Christie, Planet Fitness regional manager for New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Indeed, that site – in the plaza that houses Chunky's movie theater/restaurant on Broad Street – is still vacant and Planet Fitness is still interested. But so far, no deal. New Hampshire's health club industry has grown rapidly in the last decade, according to data from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. There are well more than 200 gyms in the state today, versus just 95 in 1996. 
Compared to other states, a healthy percentage of New Hampshire residents belong to gyms. The state ranks 15th in the nation in terms membership, with more than 17 percent of residents who belong to a club, IHRSA data shows. ‘Nashua is a great area,’ said Christie. ‘It's a phenomenal market we'd like to get into.’ And he believes that for many reasons, including cost, people will welcome Planet Fitness to the city. The club charges between $10 and $20 a month, he said. ‘It's so very affordable,’ said Christie. ‘The highest we'll go is $19.99. With the economy still in difficulty, it's very affordable.’ The average cost of a health club membership nationwide is about $34, IHRSA Public Relations Assistant Kara Thompson said. Gyms like Planet Fitness cost less because they're known as ‘no frills facilities,’ she said. These facilities are ideal for the person who wants quick access to weights and machines without waiting in line, Thompson said. But for those who want extra amenities like group fitness, a full service health club that costs more may be a better fit, she said.”


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